The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy; Mr Adegboyega Oyetola has assured the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) that his administration is committed to actively working towards the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note and Single Window Project to enhance the efficiency of business operations at the nation’s ports.
Speaking during a working visit to the NSC headquarters in Lagos on Wednesday, Oyetola lamented the abandonment of over 6,000 containers at Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos. He added that long bureaucratic processes and corruption are major factors responsible for elongated cargo clearance time thereby frustrating shippers and leading to the jettisoning of their containers at ports.
While commending the activities of the Council through Ports Standing Task Team (PSTT) in the fight against corruption and corrupt practices at Nigerian ports, Oyetola warned that the government of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would not tolerate corruption in the port system.
The Minister, however, assured that his administration will ensure the implementation of Cargo Tracking Note and the single window. He also noted that he would engage the leadership of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on the issue of abandoned cargoes at the ports in a bid to evacuate overtime cargoes and address other bottlenecks.
“I was told that some of these abandoned cargoes have been there since 2011. Why should we have cargoes dumped for that long? We would engage Customs to see how to evacuate these cargoes and prevent that from reoccurring.”
“Marine and Blue Economy has always been there, but we are just beginning to look at it in a more coordinated manner. It revolves around economic growth, improved standard of living and employment. I am charging us to be more creative by seeing ourselves as civil servants in business.
“I am particularly happy about the issue of the cargo tracking and I think it is important for us to get that done, if we are able to do that, then the delay as regards the movement of cargoes would be eliminated. Also, the port community system platform, which is the Single Window for all the actors within the sector, would allow the ease of doing business, so it is something that we would pursue seriously.
“I have gone round to look at the state of our ports, and it is very discouraging. I am not blaming anybody because the ports are old. With what I saw today at Lekki Deep Seaport, I would want us to replicate that in other places. My concept of port development is more of PPP, so it is important for us to start thinking about that” Oyetola noted.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, highlighted issues requiring urgent attention to include the amendment of NSC Act to institute effective port economic regulation.
Jime noted that the NSC is a laboratory where policy making that drives the marine space is being regulated adding that its objective is to ensure that Nigeria is the maritime Hub in the sub- western region.
The NSC boss noted that the actualization of one-percent (1%) freight stabilization fee on import and export to Shippers Council as enshrined in the NSC Subsidiary Legislation; implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN); establishment of a National Fleet, among others are the current concerns of the council.
He however expressed his confidence in the administration of the new minister adding that the Minister has displayed passion towards creating impact in the maritime sector.
“The NSC is a laboratory where policy making that drives the marine space is being regulated. Honorable Minister there is this passion you have to impact the maritime sector and to leave a legacy after your tenure.
“The objective of NSC is to ensure that Nigeria is the maritime Hub in at least the sub- western region and I believe with the support of the Minister we will be able to achieve this” Jime noted.
On his part, the NSC Director for Strategic Planning and Research, Mr. Rotimi Anifowose highlighted some of the recent achievements of the council which include promotion of digitalization and automation of all port processes.
Anifowose noted that the Council through the National Port Process Manual (NPPM) has been able to save the Nigerian economy an average demurrage of $20,000 par day between year 2021 and 2022. He added that this ultimately translated to the sum of over N12m in 2022 official exchange rate.
“In our responsibility as the nation’s port economic regulator, we adopted strategies which are meant to facilitate good performances and high productivity. We developed a three year strategic plan that is backed with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are meant to drive and guide the council.
“We have been able to ensure the infusion of the NSC as a port economic regulator in the port concession agreement. Through the NPPM we have been able to save the Nigerian economy an average demurrage of $20,000 par day between year 2021 and 2022. This ultimately translated to the sum of over N12m in 2022 official exchange rate” Anifowose concluded.